We’re sailing, climbing, hiking and riding our way to summer one training session at a time. Our full staff arrive tomorrow, but summer is well underway with several Pre-Orientation trainings. We’ve welcomed our Campus Leaders, Athletic and Inter Arts Department Heads, Adventure, Medical, Equestrian and Sailing staff. For returners it’s been a great week re-connecting with colleagues and greeting new staff. First-timers are learning what makes Camp Laurel the wonderful place it is.
These incoming staff groups are always thrilled to arrive at Laurel. Small Crafts staff have extra time on the water to familiarize themselves with Echo Lake and our fleet of boats. Adventure counselors go through specialized training focused on safety and curriculum within their specific programs – outdoor tripping, climbing or aerial park. Our administrative team of Department Heads, Program Area Directors and Campus Leaders is made up of an almost entirely veteran crew and they’re preparing to lead our counselors through Orientation.
For the next week, staff will learn about their job as camp counselors: living and taking care of campers, and teaching at a program area. Everyone is smiling, the Laurel spirit is alive and well around camp and we’re pumped to welcome counselors tomorrow. And, of course, we’re ecstatic for camper arrival on June 26th!
An amazing closing ceremony led by our Super Seniors concluded the final chapter of Laurel 2018. Campers from each campus gave a speech about the moments they’ll cherish forever and there wasn’t a dry eye around the fire by the time Taps played over the east end of Echo Lake.
As everyone is gearing up to head back to school, we wanted to offer our campers, counselors and all our camp families a heartfelt thank you for sharing this past summer with us.
To our incredible counselors:
Thank you for everything you did for your campers this summer. We’re so proud of your hard work and dedication. It’s amazing to think of all the hours you spent teaching, leading, laughing and smiling this summer.
To our amazing families:
Thank you for giving your children the opportunity to experience Camp Laurel. It’s a tremendous honor and responsibility for us to care for your children, and we always aim to give them the best experience possible.
And to our wonderful campers:
We hope you enjoyed summer of 2018 as much as we did! We loved watching you learn new skills, grow and build lasting friendships. More than anything, we loved creating lifelong memories with you.
We appreciate all that each of you did to help write the story of Laurel 2018 — it was an unforgettable season on the shores of Echo Lake. We know you’ll be keeping the Laurel Spirit alive in the winter.
Our Junior and Senior Bec and Bago campers returned from their Boston and Montreal extended trips and had amazing time. As they came back into camp, Jem hopped on each motorcoach to welcome everyone home and remind the campers they are now back at camp and out of the “real world.” This quick reminder is a good time to re-set the campers as they head back into camp for the next two weeks of activities, program and fun. Super Seniors are, of course, still out on their trip and having a blast. This is their time to unplug together as a group before they come back into camp Sunday and enter their final 12 days as Laurel campers.
Back in Readfield, our program continues to hum along as we head into Week #6 with the Lion King Musical, Sports Night Championships, Dance Showcase, Camper Talent Night, and final rounds of intercamps and tournaments. As with most camps, early in Week #7, we slide into culminating special events and programs. While the calendar turns soon to August, and it’s starting to feel like College Days may be upon us…there’s still so much more to do! And as we tell everyone – campers and staff – take advantage of your time now!
We’re so excited to see you tomorrow! Your children can’t wait to see you and look forward to introducing you to their friends and counselors and demonstrating some of the skills they’ve acquired the first month of camp. Here are a few reminders for a great visit tomorrow:
— Camp opens to visitors at 9:30 Saturday morning. We encourage you to arrive by 9:00AM so that you can park, pick up the schedule of the day, enjoy a cup of coffee, and get directions to meet your camper(s).
— While you are welcome to bring modest amounts of food, please ensure that you avoid products with nuts. Also, keep in mind that, on Sunday, all goodies left from Visiting Day will be donated to a local food bank, so don’t overdo it.
After a full week of non-stop program (hard to believe we’ve been together for almost a week!), we had a rain day yesterday. So we slept in an extra hour and moved our activities to our many indoor locations: Fieldhouse, Playhouse, Arts Centers, Fitness and Dance Studios, Tanager, Lodge and more. After five straight days of great weather, non-stop action on the lake, on the ballfields and on the courts, it was a welcome break! This morning, we awoke to one of Camp Laurel favorite traditions: The Quest!
During Quest, we break into 16 teams split across age groups and have an amazing day of friendly competition. It’s a great way to break up our busy schedule and allows campers from different age groups to get to know each other and bond. Our Super Seniors lead the effort and do a spectacular job running this amazing all-camp event.
With the first week nearly behind us, we look forward to ramping up our summer calendar as camping trips, inter-camps, tournaments, golf trips and special events crank up. We look forward to the weekend ahead with program days and lots of time swimming, waterskiing, sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking and even snorkeling!
Summer camp is a fun and exciting experience where time simply flies by. There are – quite literally – hundreds of things to do at camp, which makes it impossible not to miss them when you are not at your summer home. Here are just a few things that will always remind you of camp on those cold winter evenings:
1. Sports From intercamps to leagues and under-the-light football games, there is no better place to maximize your athletic prowess than at camp. The list of sports at the Laurel Camps is endless: Soccer, Basketball, Lacrosse, Tennis, Hockey, Fitness, Football, Golf, Gymnastics – the list goes on and on. Not to mention the outstanding fields and courts. A summer spent at camp is sure to be action-packed in any sport you desire.
2. Beautiful Waterfronts Seeing a Mastercraft ski boat or a Hobie Cat is sure to remind you of your unforgettable summers at camp. From waterskiing to sailing to bumper tubing and wake-surfing, camp has plenty of water-sports to fill your day. Echo Lake at Camp Laurel and Crescent Lake at Laurel South are two of the most magnificent lakes in the northeast. Crystal-clear, sparkling and waiting for you!
3. Arts & Crafts According to the American Camp Association (ACA), arts and crafts is among the five most popular activities at summer camp, and why wouldn’t it be? Kids simply love spending a part of their day in a place filled with glitter, paint, scissors, beads, and other craft items. With arts and crafts, the possibilities are endless.
4. Campfires A campfire is a mainstay at every camp. The activities, songs and traditions differ from camp to camp. However, one thing that remains consistent is the sacred relevance the campfire holds. The fire symbolizes camp life, and the burning wood serves as a reminder of picturesque settings in the Maine woods.
5. Camp Songs What better place to sing, cheer and shout than camp. We love singing at camp! Whether in the cabin, on the stage or around a campfire, camp songs are a big part of summer life. The slightest reminder of a camp lyric or tune will surely have you reminiscing about your summers spent in Maine.
6. S’mores A summer isn’t complete without s’mores. And besides, it’s hard to resist the pleasure of melted marshmallows and chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers. Just one bite is enough to bring instant memories of camp.
7. Cabins You might think: ”What’s so special about a cabin?’” Well, they are much more than places where counselors and campers sleep. It’s where everyone becomes a family, memories are made and friendships are nurtured.
8. Bells Bells guide campers through their day at camp. Wake up, activity change, meals and evening programs – we’d know that sound anywhere! No annoying PA system announcements here. It’s back to nature and the call of the wild… Just listen to the loons on the lake, there’s nothing better!
9. Crazy Wardrobe Preferences Camp is perhaps the only place where you will get complemented for wearing bright colors, body paint, hats, wigs and other funny clothing. Funny isn’t it? But, it’s an experience that will always bring back good memories.
The Laurel Camps are proud to be part of the summer camp industry. For nearly 150 years, camps have helped boys and girls discover new skills, form lifelong friendships and learn about themselves all in a healthy, natural environment.
During this Thanksgiving month, we appreciate our good fortune of spending summers on Echo and Crescent Lake. We also take time to honor other summer camps serving children less fortunate that provide the same joys the Laurel Camps.
Located in Casco, Maine – the same town as Laurel South – Camp Sunshine allows children with life-threatening illnesses to thrive in the camp experience. Camp Sunshine brings in each camper’s family and aims to alleviate the strain that a life threatening illness takes on both the sick child and their family. Families have an opportunity to rebuild their relationships together and meet other families facing similar challenges, while their child plays, relaxes, and enjoys the simple pleasures of life. More than 45,000 families and campers have been taken in by Camp Sunshine.
Every Sunshine Camper is sponsored by an individual, business, civic group or foundation, so no child pays a penny. Volunteers assist with every facet of camp. We are honored that, for many years, Camp Laurel’s oldest campers have volunteered at Camp Sunshine.
We also support The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Founded in 1988 by Paul Newman, its headquarters are in Westport, Connecticut – home of Camp Laurel’s winter office. The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp offers seriously ill children and their families fun, friendship and the chance for kids to, “raise a little hell,” in the immortal words of Paul Newman.
Paul Newman’s dream was for children to experience camp’s transformational spirit and friendships. His personality and playfulness infuse every corner of the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. As with Camp Sunshine, a dedicated cadre of volunteers makes each summer memorable, for every child.
We give thanks too for Ramapo Anchorage Camp. Located in Rhinebeck, New York, Ramapo serves children who face learning impediments, including those with special needs. Like all camps, keys to success include a caring staff, rituals and routines, celebration of individual and group accomplishments, and a serious dedication to fun.
Ramapo’s Executive Director, Adam Weiss, has been a force in the camp industry for many years and has worked with the Laurel Camps’ Directors, Keith, Jem, Debbie, Roger and Dagni, on various committees over the years.
These are just three of the many camps we proudly share an industry with. As Laurel Camps’ families enjoy holiday meals this month, let’s all give thanks for so many wonderful “camp families.”
At one of America’s Finest Summer Camps, a first year camper, upon stepping off the bus on arrival day for the first time, immediately exclaimed, “I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life!” The awe of that young camper at that moment was very reminiscent of the scene in The Little Mermaid in which the young mermaid Ariel finds herself on land for the first time and, with her new legs, begins experiencing a whole new world. She is mesmerized by the smallest human things—flatware, trinkets, and mirrors. For young campers who finally get to come to camp for the first time after sometimes waiting their “whole lives,” there is a sense of wonder in being in a new place with different people and things. They are surrounded by literally dozens of activities that perhaps they’ve never tried and, sometimes, of which they’ve never even heard. Like Ariel the mermaid, they sometimes hear about the world of camp from older siblings for years before finally getting to experience themselves. With that newness and the adventure of being in a place one has dreamed for a very long time comes a sense of openness and a willingness to try new things. New campers often want to try EVERYTHING!
And why not? What better way to discover which things one loves than at summer camp, an environment in which many new campers are away from their parents for the first time? There is no sideline pressure from over-zealous parents and coaches at camp sports. There are no teachers to mark right from wrong. Instead, new campers are surrounded by supportive counselors, staff, and friends, many of whom are also first time campers and that natural empathy creates an atmosphere conducive to bonding and the formation of lasting friendships.
As campers maneuver the new world of camp, they share like experiences. Whether big, like taking on a high ropes course for the first time as a cabin or small, like learning how to bait a fishing hook, learning what camp is all about becomes the foundation for the transformation of the new world of first time campers into the special world of camp. Because the menu of camp activities constantly expands and evolves, there is a perpetual newness to the summer camp experience. Even though, for older campers, camp becomes a special place to which campers get to journey once a year, that essence of being a whole new world lives on summer after summer and is what drives campers to spend their winters counting down for that annual journey to experience it.
One of the biggest parts of the summer at most traditional summer camps and nearly as big of a tradition as the concept of summer camp is the color war. For several days, campers and staff members parade around camp in their team colors. Body paint, capes, mismatched socks, colored hair spray, pom-poms, and tutus are the en vogue accessories, and enthusiastic demonstrations of team pride via spirited cheers are infectious.
Although an emphasis on friendly competition geared toward giving campers an opportunity to put their camp skills to the test while exhibiting exemplary sportsmanship has prompted many camps to change the name to such things as Challenges, Tribals, College Days, and Olympics, the concept remains the same: Campers are placed onto teams and, for several days, engage in a host of activities designed to re-cap the summer—a sort of “best of” replay.
Whatever the name, the competition is often full of traditions regarded as sacred by campers and staff alike. The beginning of the games is invariably a surprise to campers and much of the staff with the reveal being is a closely guarded secret about which there is quite a bit of discussion and speculation in the days leading up to it. The breakout is unquestionably, one of the biggest events of the summer and always on everyone’s list of favorite moments from the summer. Counselors are included in the action as team leaders and coaches.
The end of the competition often involves some sort of bonding activity designed to bring the teams back together as one camp family to finish out the summer because, in the end, the emphasis of a color on color contest is not whether one is on a winning team when all is said and done, but that each and every camper has had the opportunity to demonstrate what he or she has learned over the summer and, thus, gain an understanding of how each person brings something different and valuable to the camp family. Such a focus makes these types of camp activities a valuable lesson in diversity and teamwork. Everyone has a unique role on the team that directly affects the team’s overall performance. For anyone—camper or staff—who has ever been a part of camps, it’s the part of the summer that is undoubtedly one of the most memorable.
It’s here. The lull. The point at which the reality has set in that summer is over but next summer isn’t quite real enough. By now, most of us have shared our favorite memories of camp at least a half dozen times with anyone who will listen and we’ve actually started to settle into our fall habits, even if we still catch ourselves humming camp songs in that off moment while riding in the car or doing homework. There is a peacefulness about this time of year, though, because it’s the point at which we really begin to grasp the summer couple of months, reflect on them, and embrace the memories of them. Believe us! We’re not joking when we say that for those of us at camp, the summer passes with lightning speed. Blink more than once and miss it speed, in fact.
It’s hard to really take it all in in the moment. But one of the best things about camp is that it is something that can be savored. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “But the place which you have selected for your camp, though never so rough and grim, begins at once to have its attractions, and becomes a very centre of civilization to you.” And he was right. Camp is as much a mindset as it is a place. For the next ten months, things will regularly happen that will remind us of something that happened at camp. Whether it was a heart to heart with a counselor, a favorite activity, or even just the adventurous spirit that comes with discovering something new, each summer at camp is full of about a million opportunities to learn just a little bit more about life, some of them impossible to realize until well after the original moment has passed but each of them capable of taking campers and staff back to that “place.”